Elsewhere Seems Different

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Over the past five to six years, Norquay has experienced the ever-increasing unwillingness of city planners to engage with local residents in planning the future of our 10,000 people and hundreds of acres.

In the latest step, Norquay will simply get told at a single event on 30 April 2011 about the zoning specifications for three new housing types — with no detail provided in advance.

City planners like to point to a long string of meetings and claim that they have consulted extensively. The truth is that they have listened to almost nothing that Norquay had to say, mainly because less and less were they able to manipulate Norquay into saying what planners wanted to hear.

In the spring/summer of 2009, the lead Norquay planner at the time stated that planners were making up the process as they went along. (That is what planning amounts to in Vancouver.) Eventually they just put on the jackboots to stomp Norquay with a predetermined result.

Elsewhere seems different. Mostly bad too, but with at least some negotiation and give. In Marpole, at Shannon Mews, in the West End, in Mount Pleasant, in the Downtown Eastside, in Point Grey — developers and planners have shown at least token willingness to modify and to concede and to scale back. Voices in those communities receive some hearing and some recognition.

In Norquay, though, it has always been take — and then take more. This abuse seems to have two facets. First is an apparent assessment that an ethnic immigrant working-class community is ripe for the picking and unable to resist effectively. English is not a first language for most. Many families must work multiple jobs and have no time or energy to attend city planner events. Planner concepts and jargon pose barriers even to persons with considerable education. Many residents operate from expectations based on experience of regimes where contact with government officials is a thing to be avoided at all costs.

The second facet is appeal to greed: convince naive property owners that their existing single-family zoning is worth less than the new zoning. The reality is that removal of 2,000 single-family RS-1 properties from the 70,000 or so left in Vancouver must increase the value of the fewer that remain, likely out of proportion to any increase resulting from the Norquay mass rezoning for more crowded development.

Timeline Highlights

2006 January City planners dump a 22 storey tower into Norquay just ahead of “neighbourhood centre” planning, a classic blockbusting technique
2007 June A comprehensive detailed survey of all residents meets up with strong rejection of a draft plan to mass rezone 2400 single-family dwellings
2009 July After receiving an unwanted resident-produced plan that does not suit their agendas, city planners cease to meet with Norquay residents
2010 February City planners show their back-room-produced plan to Norquay and then come back in June with a very different plan that is even further away from what the community was asking for
2010 November City planners take their plan to City Council, along with three “considerations” to incentivize developers that the Norquay community never had a chance to see
2011 April Three new zoning specifications get waved in front of people who have had no say

Written by eyeonnorquay

29 April 2011 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Statements

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