That’s What Gregor Robertson Said …
That’s where a lot of the problems, and a lot of the social unrest and challenges that we have, come from … We want City Hall opened up.
— Gregor Robertson (10 Dec 2008)
I remember 10 December 2008. A group of community folk from across Vancouver scrambled to put together an event at Heritage Hall. Lots of displays went up for different neighborhoods and their concerns. Food and drink bedecked a long row of tables. All for the benefit of the invited guests: seven of the eleven newly elected Vancouver City Council, who showed up at the end of their first day in office.
Take a couple of minutes right now to blast back to this scene from the past via YouTube video! Count up those worthless words while you watch.
The grassroots people who pulled that event together got to know each other during the long “process” that foisted EcoDensity™ onto a largely unsuspecting Vancouver. A less unsuspecting Vancouver as time passed, though — the EcoDensity™ public hearing ended up running to seven separate sessions.
EcoDensity™ backlash played a major role in the Vision Vancouver 2008 sweep of City Hall. New voters came out to support what looked new … while dyed-in-the-wool NPA voters, their interests savaged by EcoDensity™, saw nothing to choose from and sat out the election. There was hope for change, hope for a renewed respect for the hundreds of thousands of people who already live in Vancouver neighborhoods.
Intimately intertwined with EcoDensity™ was the Norquay situation. All the while, a “new understanding” was hijacking CityPlan, setting the stage for a real estate speculation land rush and a gentrification onslaught in East Vancouver. Fuelling the frenzy was the approaching 2010 Olympics — which condo king Bob Rennie joyfully declared a “six billion dollar ad buy.” In the years since the torch was put to Norquay, spot rezoning brush fires have popped up all across Vancouver. The examples of Little Mountain, Mount Pleasant, Chinatown, Marpole, and West End jump to mind.
All of that is history now. Bitter history. Despite the fine words that flowed three years ago, Vision Vancouver has consistently voted as a bloc — with the developers who funded their election, against the local communities who have pleaded uselessly through many hours of public hearings. The local communities who probably put Vision on top …
Next stop? Tuesday June 26 at the front door of City Hall. People will be responding to a call for all Vancouver local communities to let City Hall know just how unhappy they have become. Well over 100 persons have already registered to speak at the public hearing itself.
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10 December 2008, Heritage Hall — Vision Vancouver’s First Day in Office
Transcript of What Gregor Robertson Said Back Then
It’s so fantastic to walk in here. I didn’t quite know know what I was coming into, but coming in the door, it was like all of Vancouver crammed into the Heritage Hall — with poster boards to boot.
I really want to recognize you, and thank you for all the work that you’ve done to represent your neighborhoods, to actually pull together in a cohesive way — what your neighborhoods are, what they mean to you, what they mean to the people who live there, and to put that forward and to make a political statement out of it.
Because its been the only thing really that pushed back effectively enough against the branding of EcoDensity. And when you say the word EcoDensity, well it sounds kind of good, I, you know, sounds reasonable and something we maybe should get behind, but the reality of it I think was very different, and it took a very very intense effort on behalf of all of you in the neighborhoods to counter that effectively, and to reframe the whole debate around what matters most — and that is community, and our neighbourhoods.
Ultimately, when you think about what was most important — where you grew up, what’s most important through your life, it’s those connections to where you live and the people that you live with. And a lot of the problems that we have — not only in this city, but in cities and towns across the world, is when community starts to pull apart and disintegrate, and there isn’t all that support. People fall through the cracks, and they fall between communities. There’s a lack of cohesiveness, and that’s where a lot of the problems, and a lot of the social unrest and challenges that we have, come from.
So making our neighborhoods and communities stronger is so critical right now, and we can get a lot better at it — and the work that you guys are doing is about that, I think. It’s about making neighbouhoods stronger, and making sure that we’re — as a society that we’re better looked after by working together in our communities. So, we recognize you for that work, which is really important to our city, and beyond.
We have a great opportunity right now with the big shift in the political winds to do things differently at City Hall.
We talked about this a lot through the campaign, through this election, about how we want to do things very differently. We want them to come bottom-up. We want the grassroots to have serious voice at City Hall. We want City Hall opened up. That’s why we had our big inauguration yesterday at Sunset Community Centre, because we want to be out in the community.
And it’s more than just us being out in the community, it’s about the community being in City Hall.
[ Simultaneously published through Vancouver Media Co-op ]