Panel on 2018 Milestones Looks to the Future

Visions of what Vancouver could be overshadowed the significant moments of 2018 in planning and development at TransFORMation 2018Vancouver City Planning Commission‘s (VCPC) 4th annual year-in-review dialogue held on February 4, 2019 in downtown Vancouver.

Measures to make housing more affordable, which dominated headlines for months, were hardly mentioned. Slowing development in Chinatown, a new accessibility strategy, the opening of child-care centers and a new tax to curb land speculation – all proposed as milestones of 2018 – were ignored.

Panelists recognized a few milestones: groundbreaking indigenous reconciliation measures and development of Northeast False Creek. But in a robust discussion on how Vancouver is evolving, panelists talked mostly about how planning is done and innovative models for engagement in the planning process.

The Year-In-Review is held annually to consider significant city decisions, policies and events of the previous 12 months that could be added to the online chronology of planning and development in Vancouver. Panelists are also asked to step back and consider the direction the city has taken as a result of these changes.

Panelists for the evening were former Vancouver City Council and 
Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Libby Davies; former City of Vancouver Indigenous relations manager Ginger Gosnell-Myers; Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) CEO Charles Gauthier; and Kira Gerwing, Manager, Community Investment at Vancity Credit Union and a former urban planner with the City of Vancouver. The discussion was moderated by Am Johal, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement Director of Community Engagement.

TransFORMation 2018 panelists (L to R): Charles Gauthier, Ginger Gosnell Myers, Kira Gerwing, Libby Davies, and Am Johal.

City councilor Pete Fry brought greetings from Vancouver City Council.

The panelists pinpointed some gaps in the curated list of potential 2018 milestones. Ms. Davies questioned where were the milestones of what Vancouver failed to do, such as protection of mountain views.  She suggested that Council’s approval of a opioid response plan in December 2018 be added to the list.

Interior of a temporary modular home. Source: City of Vancouver.

Mr. Gauthier urged the inclusion of construction of temporary modular homes (a 2017 milestone), noting that by the end of 2018 500 units had been built and occupied. Ms. Gerwing spoke about the hunger for honest debate in an increasingly polarized society and for the emergence of leaders, both in the community as well as on City Council, who can bring people together.

Ms Gosnell-Myers asked what Vancouver aspires to be. Advocating the incorporation of indigenous values into planning, she challenged the city to do something that has not been done before.

Asked what milestones she would like to see in 2025, Ms. Gosnell-Myers said she hoped the Musqueam-Squamish Tsleil-Wauth backed MST Development Corporation would become the largest landowner in Vancouver and Indigenous people become billionaires.

“City planning isn’t just brick and mortar, it is ensuring our aspirations are embedded in our plans.”

Ginger Gosnell-Myers

In response to a question about the citywide planning process, Ms. Gerwing raised a concern about the process retrenching power back to the powerful. She commented that the city should use the process of development of a citywide planning to redistribute power.”

“City planners should give planning away. The city should use the process of development of a citywide planning to redistribute power.”

Kira Gerwing

On engagement, Ms. Davies urged the city to go where the people are, rather than requiring them to come to open houses. Mr. Gauthier drawing on the DVBIAs successful Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver engagement process, suggested enrolling the support of employers to carve out a few hours in the workday for engagement in city planning.

“We all know what we want for our city.  The question is: How do we do it? How do we interact? How do we engage our adversaries in a respective way?”

Libby Davies

The Year-In Review event, held in partnership with 
SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement , was at the SFU Djavad Mowafaghian World Arts Centre. About 100 people attended.

The VCPC Chronology Committee will review the discussion and report on the message of the evening to City Council. We will also update the list of emerging milestones of 2018 on the website.  The emerging milestones are to be reviewed in five years to see if they stand the test of time and were truly a turning point in the growth of Vancouver.

— This article was written by 
Commissioner Robert Matas, chair of the VCPC Chronology Program, 
and edited by 
Yuri Artibise, VCPC’s Executive Director


Photographs

Photographs courtesy of Maria Cecilia Saba, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.