Brian Jackson’s Exit
News broke yesterday that Brian Jackson plans to retire at the end of 2015 after a three-year stint as chief of City of Vancouver planning.
When Jackson arrived in 2012, the Norquay Village Neighbourhood Centre Plan was in wind-down mode — two-thirds of the way along from November 2010 Council approval to 2013 nail-down with public hearings on new zoning schedules and amenities and benefits strategy.
Jackson’s most significant action in Norquay has been to bow low to every intention that Westbank expressed for the 2.3 acre Canadian Tire site at 2220 Kingsway (within the bare Norquay Plan constraints of tower height and FSR), and to permit serious abuse of the requirement that a “plaza” be provided. Jackson put extra grease on the skids by deciding that one of the three most massive projects that Norquay could experience under the plan did not have to undergo review by the Development Permit Board. (This would have been one of only three opportunities normally provided for public comment, the other two being initial open house and public hearing for rezoning.) One concrete example of the “consultation” style of Brian Jackson.
In a 27 July 2015 interview on CBC Early Edition, Jackson said this:
There have been the large policy initiatives like Marpole, the West End plan, the Downtown Eastside plan, are all now being successfully implemented. The other implementation strategies that have been put in place in Norquay and Mount Pleasant are resulting in development applications in those areas.
As far as implementation of any local area plan goes, it seems clear that all Jackson and his Council masters care about is manufacturing a flow of development applications. There is no talk here of enhancement of amenity to serve new densities of population and traffic. Much less the concurrent provision of amenity promised in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community Vision.
And here’s a report on the same day of something Jackson said to the Vancouver Courier:
I’m very proud of landing three very complex area plans [Downtown Eastside, Marpole and West End]. It’s also landing plans that actually have implementation strategies attached to them. It’s really looking at planning, not only in terms of doing bubble diagrams and pretty pictures, it’s devising plans that set out what the future land uses are for an area, set out what the community benefits could be and who’s going to pay for them and when they’ll occur.
What the community benefits could be. That mode of speech is conditional, and the bitter experience so far is no delivery. “When they’ll occur.” Has a clear timeline ever been specified for any local area subjected to a planning process?
The City of Vancouver’s interest seems to lie in ramping up development applications and city revenues from permits, fees, and property taxes. In other words, extracting value from ever more unhappy neighborhoods, not in adding value to them.