[ Comment posted in response to: Bob Ransford. Charrette system may be just what city needs for planning: people in all neighbourhoods and from all perspectives need to be part of the process for the future — not just in words, but in actions. Vancouver Sun (6 August 2011) F4 ]
The big question is how to craft those plans with those ground rules in place and truly engage citizens in the process. Getting people to the table means building trust where, these days, it is in short supply. …
But building trust requires more. People need to feel as though they crafted the plans that will guide physical change. They need to be at the drawing table and the pencil needs to be in their hands — literally. …
The best way of crafting those plans is not the way the city has mostly done it in the past. The charrette is the answer to collaboratively drafting plans for physical change. There is a rigour to a real charrette and it is based on the participants collaborating over an intensive period of time, providing immediate feedback in a series of progressive developments of a design-based plan, culminating in a joint solution.
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Charrette? Nothing new. Been there, done that. A perverted charrette adds up to no charrette. City planners have ever shifting strategies, and a tight set of goals. The leopard does not change its spots.
Norquay residents experienced what planners called a charrette in April 2009 . Compare the results from Workshop 3  with what we got at the end . Unrecognizable.
Norquay Working Group wanted to draft collaboratively with the planners. They refused to let us do that, and then resisted even looking at the plan that we felt forced to draw up by ourselves . Planners wanted to work on their own in a back room, and in the end that is exactly what they did. For phase three 2009-2010, the planning department sent in a new team that flat-out told us, sporadically and unpredictably, what they had already decided.
Check out the massive planner internal agenda  for that day of “charrette” and see how they prepared in detail to manage the outcome.
The apparent goal was to see how much planners could stuff down the neighbourhood throat without producing upchuck. Later on, politicians decided to stop up our windpipe with a consultant  just as the Norquay Plan headed off for Council approval. That killed off most Norquay community interest in any further “participation.”
A few masochistic souls still showed willingness to struggle onward. Planners responded by unilaterally terminating Norquay Working Group in February 2011. At the time planners said they would form two new groups (on housing types and amenity/benefit strategy) — then flipflopped and said there would be no community input into that stage of planning. Recently planners are saying we’ll get some involvement  … after they have worked on their own to do up the package! Maybe we get to tie the knot in the string that makes sure the wrapping paper does not come off?
Preparation of the schedules to mass rezone 1900 single-family homes seems to move right along. A major site rezoning at 2667-2703 Kingsway has already been approved.
Meanwhile, the 2012-2014 Draft Capital Plan shows nothing allocated to the promises  that the plan has made to Norquay. Will 2015-2017 do anything to catch up with the big new developments already under construction, approved as rezoning, and percolating in the pipeline?
Get more cynical. Trust nothing.