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Daphne Bramham: Will citizens fit into Vancouver’s redevelopment plan?

Opinion: Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s close ties with developers led some who were unable to attend the meeting to discuss concerns that the city deviated from its widely-supported 2016 plan. No surprise to residents.

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When the City of Vancouver asked the residents of Grandview Woodlands to plan their neighborhood, they overwhelmingly supported increased population density.

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Their 272-page community plan took nine months to develop and was approved by Congress in 2016. The plan envisioned more apartment buildings and buildings of 24 stories or less. Seeking a “social heart with a new civic plaza” and his 1,400-unit low-rise, affordable housing that enables families of all kinds, as part of a redevelopment of the Safeway site on East Broadway and Commercial Drive. I was. From refugee to professional.

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More densely populated than Vancouver’s West End, which has many rental properties, this community wanted to help create something special. We didn’t explicitly rule out the possibility of luxury condos, but the intent was clear. Neighborhoods should remain diverse, vibrant and welcoming.

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Commercial Drive has an Italian/Boho/craft beer vibe in the heart of the East Vancouver neighborhood between Clark Drive, Nanaimo Street, East 12th Avenue and Burrard Inlet.

The community is home to the city’s largest indigenous people and has a high proportion of heritage buildings. Most of the stores along Commercial Drive and Main Street are owner-operated. Bins of flowers, fruits and vegetables jut out onto the sidewalks of ethnic grocery stores.

The plan lists community values ​​as “true democracy, transparency, inclusive engagement”, diversity and character. And it is a change that is “integrated, step-by-step and sustainable” and “responsive to the needs of rural and urban populations”.

It’s part of what Andy Yang, director of city programs at Simon Fraser University, describes as the “Civic Crescent.” Its crescent stretches to include Hastings Sunrise, Fairview Slope, Kitsilano, and Point He Gray and parts of downtown.

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Crescent residents are among the most committed in Vancouver. They cast the most votes, filled out the census form, and – here’s an added twist – Yang is the best area for trick-or-treating because most people give out a lot of candy. He said.

In the states they are represented by the New Democrats. And in 2018, the mayor most endorsed former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart and his pledges on transparency and affordable housing.

Four years later, intentionally or by chance, these neighborhoods are largely reshaped by the 30-Year Broadway Plan. Approved in June by a margin of 7-4 (including Stewart’s vote), rezoning nearly 500 blocks, allowing up to 40 stories along the Skytrain route and his 20-story building on a side street To do.

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Paisley Woodward and other Grandview Woodland residents were already reeling from the West Bank Group’s plans for a Broadway and commercial Safeway site.

One of the three towers now has 40 floors. Instead of 20% rentals, it’s now down to 16%. Of the 653 rental units, only 93 are priced below market. There are also 215 condominium units.

An ad hoc group of residents thought the mayor would be interested in hearing from them. Other councilors did.

But Stewart not so much.

“We wanted to have dialogue,” said Woodward. “At the hearing, I think you can argue, but you can’t disagree. And you’re limited to five minutes.

The first email she sent Stewart in 2021 didn’t even get an automated response. She learns from another group of citizens that they reached the mayor through the mayor’s chief of staff, Neil Monkton.

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In an online meeting with Moncton, she and her makeshift group were told they couldn’t just come and complain. They had to make a presentation. It was a daunting task, but Urban her designer Scott Hein agreed to cooperate.

However, two online meetings with Stewart were canceled within hours of their scheduled start. In April, the group was told that a staff member was ill.

On May 10, they were informed that the mayor was attending a special meeting.

A request to reschedule the meeting with Stewart was denied. Stewart was told there was not much time before the proposal hearings scheduled for July. That hearing was then postponed until the new council was sworn in.

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This week, the Daily Hive reported that the Broadway plan has increased the allowed density, so the developer will submit another revised proposal to increase the number of rental units on the market from 653 to 984. Affordable units from 93 to 205. And 215 to 205 condo units.

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“We are deeply concerned with affordable housing, and that is what we want. I got

“There are a lot of impartial and deep thinkers out there, so citizens need to be listened to. We need to be taken seriously because that’s democracy. Listen to people.”

Woodward then finds Stewart’s calendar posted online. In March, he met with Ian Gillespie, the developer of his Safeway project, for his hour.

“Disappointing” at the time, she said, adding that it made more sense last week when Gillespie’s name was on the Forward Together (Stewart’s political party) donor list. .

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The mayor’s August calendar has another hour-long meeting with Gillespie at the end of the month, with 15 developments on a list of 39 “captains” tapped by Forward Together to raise a total of $783,500. It’s full of hour-long calls to people.

Most of these developers received follow-up emails before Monckton took unpaid leave to work for the party on September 10th.

“Money speaks. It’s really disappointing,” said Woodward. “But when thoughtful people are ignored, you are in danger.

That caricature is Nimbyism, a slander that suggests elitism.

This is the exact opposite of what enthusiastic Grandview Woodlands residents reflected in their 2016 neighborhood plans. That’s not what they say about the Safeway redevelopment, for those who want to listen.

What is almost certain is that they will vote on October 15th and the candidate they chose will likely run the city for the next four years.

dbramham@postmedia.com

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Daphne Bramham: Will citizens fit into Vancouver’s redevelopment plan?

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