The Grandview-Woodland Assembly Roundtable

In recent years I’ve participated in a few Grandview Woodland community meetings. Following the decision to establish the Citizens’ Assembly I felt curious to catch up and stay involved. A Roundtable session happened at the Maritime Labour Centre on November 26th 2014. It turned out to be an intriguing exchange of thoughts and ideas.

At the very start of the evening a few disgruntled voices were heard from the audience. They had good points: 1. The draft was only presented at the meeting instead of being circulated for prior review and better preparation. 2. A contentious development plan has triggered the forming of the ‘Assembly’. The knowledge of a community plan prepared before that has come to light recently: Scot Hein, who had been senior urban designer for the City of Vancouver at the time, mentioned it in a comment on the Price Tags* blog. The comment from the audience inquired about the availability of that plan for review by the public. (* You might need to scroll a bit: the location of Scot’s comment is automatically updated when more comments are added)

My general impression is that we very often (me included) find it easier to complain about what seems wrong before acknowledging the positive aspects of what’s in front of us. What’s good about this habit is that it shows we care. However, in reality, in most cases confrontational discussions tend to put at least one side on the defensive, leading to a pretty unproductive discussion. At the Roundtable event there were signs of that although eventually the evening ended in a feeling of progress; it looks like the Assembly has gained useful insights for the next phase of its work.

One of my comments at the table referred to the use of the word Values in the handed Draft. A few nods of approval were made by other participants. Below are some more thoughts that expand a bit on that. Below my thoughts I’ve put the Draft for context. Hopefully this helps the Assembly further on their way to stepping into the Options stage:

It might be useful to point Grandview-Woodland Values in much shorter sentences for the benefit of focus. Diverse individuals, by nature of their individuality do not necessarily have the same set of values. This leads to my next point:

Values to Guide Change need to be very few and as open as possible for discussion, debate and clarification. This way we can achieve the desired understanding and diversity expressed in this document.

There seems to me to be confusion in terms throughout this document. What I value is not necessarily A Value. The effort of articulating the points described in this document is admirable. Participating in this process inspires in me a sense of responsibility to its success. When words are put down in writing, I find it necessary to be precise yet inviting; easy to follow yet meaningful. Would it help calling the list here Acknowledgements instead of Values?

The question ‘What are Values?’ might be a guiding principle for fine tuning this document.

More valuable points were brought up in the evening. The above is just a drop in the sea of explorations that will hopefully lead this lovely neighborhood to another day of progress, another decade of success, another century of city building.


Below you can read the Draft document as scanned and extracted following the evening described above.

DRAFT- Values to guide change in Grandview-Woodland

Character and History:

We first acknowledge and value that we are on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples. This is not just history but an ongoing and living presence within Grandview-Woodland.

We value residential friendly change in line with the current character of built forms and streets. This neighbourhood character has been defined by its unique history and we want to continue to attract, welcome, and sustain diverse people, communities and buildings.

We value the character and history as it currently exists in Grandview-Woodland. We want to build upon that history and character while understanding that this can mean change or maintaining what is here.

Appropriate Change or Just & Appropriate Change:

We understand that change is inevitable, but are concerned with the pace and type of change occurring in our neighbourhood.

In order to embrace change, we seek to promote social and spatial changes that are integrated, gradual, sustainable, appropriately scaled and responsive to the needs of local residents and the City’s residents more broadly. This is accomplished through extensive grassroots community engagement that is inclusive and democratic.

Diversity:

We commit to promoting and defending diversity of all forms. In planning for the future, Grandview-Woodland has a specific interest in the diversity of people, housing, public land use, and economic opportunities.

Affordability:

We want a reasonable way for people of all socio-economic levels to live lives free from stress of an uncertain future in regards to their money, security, and ability to grow.

Well-being & Health:

We value maintaining green spaces and a quality of life that fosters mental, physical, and social health in the places we work, live and play.

We view health in a way that recognizes peoples’ different social and economic histories and experiences. We also value walkability and encouraging active health.

Environmental Sustainability:

We think environmental sustainability includes at least three dimensions:

  1. Communities that are resilient, scalable, more complete, clean, vibrant, and have local economies.
  2. Green spaces that promote ecological literacy, biodiversity, food security, physical activity and well-being for all.
  3. Green infrastructure that is energy efficient and minimizes waste. It should also support people in reducing our collective emissions and resource use.

Mobility and Accessibility:

We value a transportation system that:

  1. Offers a well-integrated, sufficient, efficient and affordable mix of modes of transportation for all ages and abilities.
  2. Makes active transportation safe, convenient and delightful while managing traffic congestion.
  3. Allows the movement of goods and services that supports a thriving local economy and a major port, while reducing impacts and ensuring effective emergency response.

Safety:

We value the ability to walk, ride and drive anywhere at anytime in a safe and reasonable manner. We also desire to protect and include all members of the community, whether it is inside the home or in the neighbourhood at large. Safety should be guaranteed for, among others: women, children, people no matter their ethnic/cultural background, those with addictions, disabilities, or mental health problems, seniors, First Nations, and people of all sexual orientations.

We also want to encourage more collaboration between the community, law enforcement, community policing organizations, first responders, and harm reduction programs.

Finally, we value a neighbourhood that is family-friendly—safe, clean and encouraging of play for all ages.

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